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  • Sony Proposes Basic Format For Entertainment Robots
  • June 16, 1998 (TOKYO) -- Sony Corp. announced that it developed OPEN-R, a basic format for entertainment robots in the form of small animals.
    A prototype dog-shaped robot (see chart ) can walk, sit down, stand and run after a ball. Users can replace hardware modules located in the leg and head sections, and give commands to the robot.

    The entertainment robot field lacks compatibility due to the absence of a standard format. New control boards and driver software are required for each robot, and programs must be rewritten.

    The basic format proposed by Sony consists of the hardware and software systems.

    Sony's own high-speed bus is used for connecting between the instruction section with a CPU and a microchip for signal processing and each hardware module. The data transfer rate is 12Mbps.

    The software system employs Sony's real-time operating system called Aperios. A device driver to recognize hardware, middleware to handle movements and image information including walking and sitting down, an application software program to execute animal movements and special movements such as playing soccer, and a hardware system are the elements run by the real-time operating system.

    Because this can modularize the application software, the program does not have to be rewritten even when the software is replaced, according to Sony.

    The robot is equipped with a CCD camera for scanning, a micro-switch for a tactual sense in the head section, and an acceleration sensor in the body. This structure enables the robot to run after a ball, grouch when it is hit on the head, and pick itself up by sensing a change in the center of gravity when it slips.

    All these movements follow patterns and in the case of animal movements, about 45 types of programs are used. A motor controls all the movements of the robot, Sony said.

    The company has not announced the release schedule and price.

    "Sony plans to market the robot by the end of 1999 at a price affordable to children if they save some of their pocket money," a company official said.

    Chart: A prototype dog-shaped robot

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    (Nikkei Mechanical)

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    Updated: Mon Jun 15 15:21:11 1998